Achieving Success Silicon Valley Style


Talk about innovation is everywhere – in board rooms, conferences, employee meetings and university classes.

In 2019, it is estimated that over 5 billion USD will be spent developing innovation competency in corporations, ministries and society. However, to gain real returns, business leaders must stop talking and start being innovative daily in their actions, decisions and management approaches. Real innovation comes through action from the executive team throughout the organization.

Innovation requires leaders to:

Be curious and listen for customer and market needs

Meet with at least one customer, partner or competitor every week. Ask open ended questions and really listen to their concerns and desires.  Be open to their ideas and needs to stimulate creative ways to create value.

Uber and AirBnB were not the result of long research projects but of entrepreneurial determination to find a better way to solve a recognized and well validated issue!

What customers, colleagues or co-collaborators can you meet with in the next month to understand their needs, desires and opportunities for the future?

Take a risk

Successful innovation starts with a commitment to create something new. This requires breaking out of the ‘comfort zone’ and doing something different. For Norwegians, this can be a bit scary. Innovation, however is all about creating a new solution or doing something differently and can be well worth the risk!

Start by challenging yourself to do at least one thing differently each day. It can be as simple as taking a new route home from work, eating lunch out instead of in the office, going to the gym at a different time of day.  You will be surprised at how quickly these small changes can open your mind for innovative ideas. Suddenly the idea of breaking out of ‘business as usual’ may not seem so daunting.

Empower Team Members to Achieve the Goal

Innovation comes from iterative exploration, creation, piloting and adapting new approaches to solve problems and enhance opportunities.  This demands quick decision making, creativity and fast action by all involved in the project.

Innovation is a team sport in which all members must be empowered, aligned and committed to achieving the desired outcome.

Are your employees fully empowered to make decisions, take action and do what it takes to succeed?

Since innovation is about results, not hours used or actions taken, consider your company’s measurements and incentives – are they truly empowering results?

Invite diversity, debate and collaboration

Innovation cannot be created in a silo.  It comes through collaboration, debate and views from different perspectives. While it may be a bit uncomfortable for many in Norway to engage with people who look and act differently, real innovation is built through diversity.

Success comes from understanding, addressing and integrating the ideas of others – who think differently. Surrounding yourself with people who think like you, stifles innovation.

In Silicon Valley, corporate executives and investors listen to and learn from entrepreneurs. Leaders invite challenge from 24 year old engineers and often people from  2-5 different countries contribute to every discussion.

If you want to start innovating, meet with people who think differently and challenge you. Invite customers, competitors and others who bring different perspectives to meet. By inviting and then listening to their viewpoint you will gain new insights to start innovating.

Commit to Success

Success requires hard work and dedication to doing what it takes to bring a something new to the market.  Real innovators’ commitment to creating value in new ways fuels them through long hours, reduced income and the challenges inherent in building something great.

Successful innovation is rewarded through the satisfaction which comes from achieving the dream of creating something great.

What’s holding you back from making difference for the world through innovation?

2019 is the year for innovation.  Now is the time to Stop talking and Start innovating today by doing something different;  taking small risks;  empowering team members to succeed;  inviting challenge, listening to others’ different views  and committing to do what it takes to achieve the dream of successful innovation.

This article is written by Jennifer Vessels, founder of Silicon Valley based Next Step, leader of Executive Growth Alliance and speaker.